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Adults are prone to responding erroneously to another’s instructions based on what they themselves see and not what the other person sees. Previous studies have indicated that in instruction-following tasks participants make more errors when required to infer another’s perspective than when following a rule. These inference-induced errors may occur because the inference process itself is error-prone or because they are a side effect of the inference process. Crucially, if the inference process is error-prone, then higher error rates should be found when the perspective to be inferred is more complex. Here, we found that participants were no more error prone when they had to judge how an item appeared (Level 2 perspective-taking) than when they had to judge whether an item could or could not be seen (Level 1 perspective taking). However, participants were more error-prone in the perspective-taking variants of the task than in a version that only required them to follow a rule. These results suggest that having to represent another’s perspective induces errors when following their instructions but that error rates are not directly linked to errors in inferring another’s perspective.


This work was originally published in the Royal Society Open Science, available at DOI: 10.1098/rsos.170284.

This work is distribued under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.



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